BHSU men’s basketball faces challenging season

Black Hills State University’s Trey Whitley comes up with the steal and brings the ball up the floor during a game Jan. 4 against Colorado Mines, in Spearfish. Pioneer file photo

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SPEARFISH — It is an all-too-common refrain for the Black Hills State University men’s basketball team.

Weekend games at Colorado Mesa and UC-Colorado Springs were postponed because of COVID-19 testing and protocols.

Eleven games to this point were on the schedule when the season began, but the Yellow Jackets have been able to play only four of those.

“We’d have team dinners, go to restaurants, and spend time together,” Yellow Jackets’ head coach Ryan Thompson said in describing a traditional Friday-Saturday road trip.

Thompson said receiving word of the postponement on Thursday was disappointing, but the team is starting to get used to it. The current slate includes four cancelations and three postponements.

Plans for this weekend call for players and coaches to socially distance, quarantine, and conduct Zoom meetings this weekend, according to Thompson. Film study constitutes a part of those meetings.

Thompson said uncertainty poses perhaps the biggest challenge the team is facing.

“Are you going to play a game in a couple of days or not?” Thompson said in describing that atmosphere. “You prepare for a team, and you find out that you’re not going to play that team.”

Thompson said the team copes with these challenges by trying to keep things in perspective.

“Everybody’s going through some stuff right now,” Thompson explained. “Pandemics are difficult on everyone, and there are some people out there that have it worse than us.”

Practice schedules and other items part of the basketball life naturally change once word of a cancelation or postponement is received.

“We just have to take a step back and do anything we can to keep going,” Thompson said.

How do the coaches and players cope with this unprecedented situation?

“I think it’s getting easier the more you go through it, just like anything,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to focus on the positives and not get too down.”

Thompson said the team would like to have this current group play a lot of games and see what it can accomplish together.

“That’s probably the biggest frustration,” Thompson said. “We’re just not getting that opportunity to compete and grow as a team.”

What are some of the most important lessons the team is taking from this season?

“Anytime you go through some adversity, go through some difficult things in life, it helps make you stronger,” Thompson said. He added this group is young, and players will be together for a long time.

Thompson said the team will focus on daily improvement and getting a chance to compete.

“We know that, eventually, the pandemic will be over and things will get back to normal,” Thompson said. “We have a really good basketball team, and we’re excited about the future with the student-athletes in our program.”

Black Hills State is 2-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, 2-2 overall. The next scheduled game is at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at home against Western Colorado.

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